Rural round-up

April 24, 2014

Three challenging numbers – Conor English:

There has been a lot of discussion recently about New Zealand’s meat industry. We all want more profitable and sustainable farming. Meat farmers have been concerned that their gross incomes are a bit lower than dairy farmers on similar sized farms. For meat, three numbers make bridging that gap challenging.

Firstly, the weighted average kg/ha production for meat farmers across all land classes and regions for 2011/2012 was around 187kg/ha (lamb – 90.77, beef – 66.43 and wool-30.16). Now this is a very rough number as farms vary significantly from the high country to the coastal flats.

According to DairyNZ, the average Kg of MS per effective hectare for the 2012/13 season was 988 Kg MS/ha. Despite issues with assumptions made to get these numbers, such as supplementary feed and how run offs are counted, the basic maths indicate that dairy farmers produce a reasonable amount more weight of product per hectare. . .

Study suggests advice on saturated fats could be wrong:

Federated Farmers is welcoming a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, which found no link between saturated fats and heart disease.  While this in no way endorses an unbalanced diet, it is perhaps a start on centring the pendulum.

“It is significant that the British Heart Foundation helped to fund a study which questions current dietary advice that polyunsaturated fats are good and saturated fats are inherently bad,” says Jeanette Maxwell, Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre chairperson.

“An international team led by the University of Cambridge’s Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury has collated and re-analysed data from 72 separate studies involving over 600,000 participants. . .

Developing new venison markets - Keith Woodford:

Several weeks back I wrote about how the venison industry was at the crossroads. [Venison at the crossroads] The industry has been drifting backwards because farm gate prices relative to the costs make it more attractive for farmers to pursue other endeavours.

In that article I wrote how the potential for on-farm productivity gains with deer is limited by the fundamental biology of the species. Accordingly, the future of venison depends on increasing price premiums which, in recent years, have become eroded. However, in that previous article, for time and space reasons, I left the debate at that point. Here, I address the strategies that have potential to make a difference.

Until now it has always been the European market that has underpinned New Zealand venison prices, with more than 80% of our venison sold there. The market channels developed in the 1980s alongside those already in place to handle the wild-shot trade. Even now, most European consumers do not understand that they are eating farm-raised venison in their ragout rather than wild-shot game. . . .

Export Statistics for the First Half of the 2013-14 Season:

Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) compiles lamb, mutton and beef export statistics for the country. The following is a summary of the combined export statistics for the first six months of the 2013-14 meat export season (1 October 2013 to 31 March 2014).

B+LNZ has developed an interactive tool for further analysis of New Zealand’s meat exports. The tool allows you to generate and download customised data and graphs of export lamb and beef statistics, by market, value, and volume. Access it at: portal.beeflambnz.com/tools/export-tool

Summary
While a smaller lamb crop contributed to a decrease in total exports of lamb over the first half of 2013-14, compared with same period last season, an increase in average value translated to total lamb exports rising in value by 11 per cent. An early processing season pushed mutton exports up significantly. However, this is expected to balance out in the second half of the season. Mutton exports averaged $5,310 Free on Board (FOB) per tonne, up 14 per cent on the same period last season. Meanwhile, beef and veal exports were stable in both volume and value. . . .

Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT Site Produces First Commercial Product:

 

Process Operators Neeta Sharma and Greg Smith with some of the first product produced at Fonterra’s Waitoa UHT Site

Fonterra’s $120 million UHT milk processing site at Waitoa has produced its first 25,000 Anchor UHT cream packs ready for sale.

UHT Operations Manager, Donald Lumsden, says the first production marks a significant milestone for the Waitoa UHT site, which has transformed from a green field to a state-of-the-art milk processing facility in just 12 months. . .

 


Who are denialists now?

April 24, 2014

Federated Farmers’ Hawkes Bay president Will Foley asks, who are the denialists now?

RadioLIVE recently ran an online poll asking its listeners if they were frightened of climate change.  To the shock of host Marcus Lush, two-thirds of respondents apparently said no, they’re not.  I would have said yes.

As some groups are cock-a-hoop over tough consent conditions imposed on the Ruataniwha water storage scheme and others think them lax, you have to wonder if this public climate weariness has spread to them too.

What it all means for the viability of Ruataniwha won’t be known until the 700-page decision is crunched but what I know is this.  If the scheme does not progress it won’t affect Green Party MP’s in their air conditioned offices or the paid Wellington staff at Forest & Bird.  They don’t have to worry about the El Nino being talked about for spring.  They don’t have to watch our region increasingly turn into a retirement village while our young drift to Auckland or Australia.  They don’t have to deal with crime since Hawke’s Bay bucked the national trend last year.

I cannot understand why some are so hell-bent on derailing a scheme, which gives Hawke’s Bay its best shot at adapting to a changing climate. Federated Farmers hosted Dr Russel Norman at the South Island’s Opuha water storage scheme a few years ago.  Memories seem short unless you are a politician.

With a medium level of confidence the climate experts say that average rainfall on the east coast will decrease this century.  This will lead to lower flows of the Makaroro River, Waipawa and Tukituki Rivers. The International Panel on Climate Change warns that by 2040, the East Coast can expect to double or even triple the time spent in drought.  This is our future unless we adapt and that means new pastures, crops, technologies and even animals.  Above all, adaption means storing water like that proposed by Ruataniwha.

I will be blunt to make a point; the shit in the Tukituki during summer low flows has mostly been human.  Up to 70 percent of phosphorous loading during low flows had come from the wastewater plants of Waipukurau, Waipawa, Otane and Takapau.  That’s thankfully changing with upgrades in hand while the allocation regime will put more water into the Tukituki during summer.

Ruataniwha could do more.  It could put a quarter of a billion dollars into those towns each year providing councils with the means to meet increasing drinking water standards.  This proves that the environment and economy are flipsides of the same coin.  If there’s no scheme, there’s no dam supported flushing and little additional money to upgrade existing plant.  Can anyone tell me the environmental win in that?

Is it just me or has the media and Ruataniwha opponents overlooked the IPCC’s warning that New Zealand is underprepared for a changing climate.  If anything, there seems to be outright denial since these groups seem to believe our rivers in 2040 will be exactly as they were in 2014.  It is not like the Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company got a muppet to look into climate issues and Ruataniwha either.  Victoria University’s Dr James Renwick happens to be an international expert in this field.

While dryland places like North Otago have been averaging twice their normal rainfall over the past five years, in the same timeframe, we’ve had three droughts and it is dragging Hawke’s Bay down.  Out of 67 councils in the last census, Hastings District slipped nine spots to 30th spot, Napier went back one to 31st while Central Hawke’s Bay District dropped to 58th – losing 1.8 percent of its usually resident population.

If Ruataniwha’s consents are so tough they are Clayton’s ones, then it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the environment.  As the climate warms so will the waterways while the volume going into them drops. While that’s great for algae it doesn’t sound so flash for introduced trout or native fish and birds. 

While we can expect less intense rainfall we can store what falls and that’s the beauty of Ruataniwha and the secret recipe of our economy; just add water.

So is Ruataniwha perfect, probably not, but what is?  Do I have the information to make an informed investment decision? That now hinges on the consent conditions attached by the Board of Inquiry.  Yet debating the principle of storing water, given towns and cities do it, is a bit like debating the wisdom of sunblock, dumb. 

If we accept the climate is changing then we need to store water and adapt how we currently do things.  If you deny the climate will ever change then I guess you won’t be at the National Aquarium of NZ on 6 May, where NIWA’s Dr Andrew Tait is talking at 730pm on The Climate and Weather of Hawke’s Bay.

New Zealand makes a tiny contribution to green house gases.

No matter how hard we try to reduce emissions, we are at the mercy of other countries whose emissions are much greater.

We can continue to do our bit but we must also prepare to adapt to whatever nature throws at us.

If, as is predicted, parts of New Zealand will be hotter and drier, then water storage schemes like Ruataniwha which will enable irrigation and maintain minimum flows in rivers, are not just sensible, the economic, environmental and social benefits they provide.


Rural round-up

April 21, 2014

Taking the crosshairs off farmers - Willy Leferink:

Some politicians and lobby groups hell-bent on making farming a feature of the 2014 general election will be taking names and counting numbers.  Yet if you search online with the words “big targets,” you’ll find the banks are in the gun in the United Kingdom while across the ditch, it is tax cheats.

In the universe which is the European Union, its Climate Commissioner has challenged other carbon emitters to follow its lead.  Those big target emitters are the United States, who contribute 15.6 percent of global emissions and this surprised me, China, which is now up to 23.6 percent.  Then again, a fair chunk of humanity and the global economy resides there and in the other big target emitters; Russia, India, Brazil and Indonesia.

Speaking of Russia, I guess Vladimir Putin has made himself a big target for his ‘hostile takeover’ of the Crimea.  While the west rattled less its sabres and more its teacups,you’ve got to wonder if Putin is reassembling old Russia in some kind of geopolitical Lego.

So what’s the lesson here for farmers? . . .

West Coast farms start recovery:

While the South Island’s West Coast bore the brunt of former Cyclone Ita’s wrath, the defining image is that taken by the Otago Daily Times, of past Federated Farmers North Otago provincial president, Robert Borst, using his digger to rescue a motorist trapped by rising floodwaters.

“This is one of the worst storms I can recall,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers West Coast provincial president and the Federation’s adverse events spokesperson.

“Federated Farmers is working with the West Coast Rural Support Trust and we’d like to ask the media to help us in spreading the Trust’s direct telephone number to affected farmers: 03 738 0038.  I need to stress this applies to the West Coast only.

“Getting the Rural Support Trust’s number (03 738 0038) out there is particularly important to beef farmers or graziers who may be struggling. . . .

Wheat disease develops fungicide resistance – Annette Scott:

New Zealand wheat growers will need to rethink their crop-disease management following confirmation the wheat disease speckled leaf blotch has developed fungicide resistance.

Septoria tritici blotch (STB), or speckled leaf blotch, the principal disease affecting NZ wheat crops over the past four years, has developed resistance to the fungicide group that has been most effective in controlling it.

A research team led by Dr Suvi Viljanen-Rollinson, from Plant and Food Research at Lincoln, working with scientists at Rothamsted in the United Kingdom and Aarhus University in Denmark, has confirmed resistance by the NZ zymoseptoria tritici population to quinone outside inhibitors (QoIs), a fungicide group commonly referred to as the strobilurins. . . .

 

Manawatu River improvement is encouraging:

Federated Farmers is thrilled by the improving health of the Manawatu River. A detailed report for the Manawatu River Leaders Forum reveals that the first three years of the clean up have been a success.

“This report is a huge boost for the farming community,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers Manawatu-Rangitikei provincial president.

“While improvements in water quality aren’t able to be measured overnight, we are seeing a downward trend already in nutrient and e-coli levels. With 93 percent compliance and climbing in the Manawatu-Wanganui Region, this improving trend will only continue.

“What we can measure is the actions of our community and the numbers are so encouraging it’s something the farming community can take pride in. Well over 100 kilometres of waterways have been fenced, over 60,000 plants planted for erosion control and riparian margins, as well as farm plans and mapping well under way. . . .

Inaugural Game Animal Council appointed:

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and Associate Minister Peter Dunne today announced the appointment of 11 members to the inaugural Game Animal Council.

“The new Game Animal Council is about giving hunters of deer, thar, chamois and pigs an active voice in the management of their recreation. These appointments include a diverse range of interests in hunting and a geographic spread across the country,” Dr Smith says.

The 11 members are:
· Donald Hammond (chair)
· Thomas (Mark) Brough
· Roger Duxfield
· Professor Geoffrey Kerr
· Steven McFall
· Alexander (Alec) McIver
· William Garry Ottmann
· Terence Pierson
· Roy Sloan
· Carol Watson

 


Rural round-up

April 17, 2014

IPCC Mitigation Report redefines agriculture as ‘green tech’:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Mitigation Report places New Zealand in a very good position so long as the policy nexus supports the carbon efficient production of food.

“The IPCC’s Mitigation Report projects that emissions from Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use could, by 2050, be half of what they were in 2010,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President.

“In the IPCC’s Mitigation Report summary for policymakers, agriculture is seen as being positive because it “plays a central role for food security and sustainable development”.

“We think the IPCC has come a very long way from 2007. There is an increasing alignment between climate change and food insecurity, arguably, the two biggest challenges our species will face this century. . .

Tukituki decision a win for water quality and farming:

The draft decision by the Board of Inquiry (BOI) on the Tukituki Catchment proposal represents a significant win for freshwater management and the urgency of a transition to environmentally sustainable agriculture in New Zealand, says Fish & Game NZ.

Fish & Game lead the evidence presented against the most contentious issue in front of the BOI which was Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s proposed “single nutrient management” approach – this focussed only on the management of phosphorous and set instream nitrogen limits at toxic levels. . .

Kiwi on the farm:

The sight of kiwi scratching the grass on Richard Gardner’s farm near Kaipara is now a common sight, thanks to his family’s dedication to a restoration project in the area.

Richard Gardner says they’ve been controlling pests in a fenced-off area of bush on his land and last year decided to introduce kiwi back into the area for the first time in 50 years.

He says his sister, Gill Adshead, and her husband, Kevin, were initially behind the restoration of 400 hectares of native bush, which is now home to kiwi. . .

Barns could give us the best of both worlds - James Houghton:

In a recent column by Sir David Skegg, he says we need to stop pretending that we can have our cake and eat it too. Whilst right now that may not be the case it is definitely a possibility.

Right now we are working to get the balance right between the environment and economy. Yes there is intensification and with that comes responsibility. Farmers are upgrading their infrastructure to keep within the acceptable limits, which involves nutrient budgets, cattle housing, new technology, and overseer programs. Overall New Zealand dairy farmers are investing a conservative $3 billion into improving their environmental impact, which is nothing to snort at. For each individual dairy farmer that equates to about a $250,000 investment, you can say we are taking every practical step to improve our environment.

It is all well and good to say we need a balance between meeting the Government’s target of doubling our exports by 2025 and maintaining and improving our water quality – everyone will agree with you here, but who sets that balance? It comes down to where your priorities lie, and everyone’s priorities are different. . .

Whitebait partners look for solutions:

Waikato-Tainui, local marae, councils and agencies are working together to better manage whitebait fisheries at Port Waikato following the compilation of a new report.

The report is the result of an initial scoping project to better understand the complex and inter-related resource management issues around whitebaiting in the lower Waikato River. The area has traditionally been a plentiful source of whitebait but over the years more and more people are seeking to gather the delicacy there.

With more people comes increased pressures for space to build stands, an increase in the number and size of baches and associated pressures such as sewage management, and a growing amount of whitebait being taken.  . .

Alps trail activity booms – Rebecca Fox:

In its first ”official” season, activity on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail is much higher than the forecast.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill said monthly trail counter readings from September 2013 to February this year show 3604 cyclists used the Lake Ohau Lodge section of the trail, 4815 cycled the Lake Pukaki section and 3646 passed the Ohau Weir section.

”The numbers are fantastic … they are higher than what was forecast,” Mr Gaskill said.

”In a lot of ways, it’d be hard to imagine how things could have gone a lot better [this season].” . . .

Feed statistics reflect the growth of New Zealand dairy production:

Annual Feed Production Statistics compiled by the New Zealand Feed Manufacturers Association (NZFMA) for the year 2013 reflect the changing face of feed production. Based on figures supplied by NZFMA member companies nationwide, the NZFMA annual statistics report the total tonnages of manufactured animal feed and the tonnages of raw materials used in the production of compound feed in New Zealand. (Compound feed is heat-treated feed produced in a feed mill in pellet or mashed form.)

In 2013, compound feed production increased by 2.8% to 991,027 tonnes and raw material usage rose by 4.1% to 983,440 tonnes. The four main grains used were wheat (58.8%), barley (17.4%), sorghum (12.2%) and maize (10.3%). The majority of compound feed was produced in the North Island (65.3%). 86% of compound feed is currently produced in bulk form and 14% is bagged. . .


Rural round-up

April 16, 2014

“Awareness needed around psychology of hunting accidents”:

Wellington start-up, Hunter Safety Lab says there needs to be greater awareness around the subconscious psychological factors that can cause safety conscious, experienced hunters to mistakenly shoot another hunter.

The comment came in light of the death of a Southland hunter shot by another hunter over the weekend.

It is the hunting season’s second shooting accident to take place in the space of two weeks since it officially kicked off at the beginning of April. . .

No rain reprieve yet for drought-hit farms:

While farming areas in the South Island and the main centres receive rain, very little has fallen in areas affected by the upper North Island’s second consecutive autumnal drought.

“It is clearly a localised drought adverse event covering Waikato and parts of Auckland and Northland,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers adverse events spokesperson.

“I must add that we are also concerned about conditions in Manawatu-Rangitikei too.

“Having been through drought myself last year, I fully understand why farmers up north would dearly like to trade weather with us in the South Island. . . .

Kiwi environmental innovation receives international honours:

Contact Energy’s Wairākei bioreactor – a Kiwi innovation – has been awarded honours at the internationally recognised 2014 IWA Asia Pacific Regional Project Innovation Awards in Singapore. Jointly developed by Contact and Beca, the bioreactor is a unique, world-first solution to improve the quality of water that is discharged from the iconic Wairākei geothermal power station into the Waikato River.

“I’m immensely proud of our bioreactor,” says Contact Energy CEO, Dennis Barnes. “As a world-first it’s great to see this example of Kiwi ingenuity recognised at an international level.”

“To work with Contact Energy from the beginning, developing and testing innovative concepts through to the design and construction of the Wairākei bioreactor has been immensely rewarding for the Beca team”, says Beca CEO, Greg Lowe. “This is another great example of New Zealand talent delivering world class project outcomes.” . . .

Tough Ask to Separate Bright 2014 Sharemilker Finalists:

Choosing a winner in the 2014 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year competition is a tough task for the judges, due to the varying backgrounds and positions of the finalists.

“It is a really interesting competition this year. A number of the finalists are relatively new to the dairy industry, having changed careers, and they also hold a variety of positions which highlights the many ways people can now progress in the industry,” national convenor Chris Keeping says.

“The greatest factor they have in common – apart from being ambitious dairy farmers – is the majority of this year’s finalists have Bachelor degrees. This demonstrates the industry is attracting talented people who are applying skills learned on the job or in other vocations to excel.” . . .

Rollout of faster broadband to remote East Cape schools complete:

All twelve rural schools in remote locations around Gisborne and Wairoa now have faster broadband, as a result of the Government’s broadband initiatives, Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams announced today.

Local communications company Gisborne Net has successfully completed the installation of point-to-point wireless broadband for the 12 schools, under a contract signed with the Government last year.

The 12 Gisborne and Wairoa schools are among 57 across New Zealand which will get faster broadband under the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative, because they are beyond the reach of cost-effective fibre deployment.

The schools will have access to broadband capable of peak speeds of at least 10 megabits per second (about four times faster than previous services). . . .

Sales Volumes Strong, With Prices Holding Steady in March Market:

Summary

Data released today by the Real Estate Institute of NZ (“REINZ”) shows there were 94 more farm sales (+25.5%) for the three months ended March 2014 than for the three months ended March 2013. Overall, there were 472 farm sales in the three months to end of March 2014, compared to 534 farm sales for the three months ended February 2014 (-11.6%). 1,842 farms were sold in the year to March 2014, 28.5% more than were sold in the year to March 2013.

The median price per hectare for all farms sold in the three months to March 2014 was $22,342 compared to $22,317 recorded for three months ended March 2013 (+0.1%). The median price per hectare fell 1.3% compared to February.  . . .

State of the art CT scanner to make quick work of animal yield measurements:

Sheep and Deer farmers in the South Island can now benefit from faster and more accurate carcass measurements, thanks to a new CT scanner in Mosgiel. The scanner, which uses X-Ray technology to create cross-sectional pictures of the body, is a valuable tool for determining meat yield in livestock.

The new CT scanner is being provided by INNERVISION, a joint venture between Landcorp Farming Ltd and AgResearch. It replaces an older scanner that had been in operation for eighteen years.

CT scanner scientist Neville Jopson said the new scanner was considerably faster than the old machine, scanning a whole carcass in around two minutes compared to as much as two hours previously. The ‘spiral scanning’ feature takes measurements over the entire carcass rather than single slice views at set points, providing a much better understanding of composition. . . .

Rabobank opens afresh in central Christchurch:

Continued strong growth in New Zealand has seen specialist agribusiness lender Rabobank relocate to state-of-the-art premises in the new ‘Rabobank Building’ in central Christchurch.

The Christchurch branch of the world’s leading specialist agribusiness bank and the third largest lender to rural New Zealand reopened on Monday 14 April at Level 2, 12 Papanui Rabobank northern south island regional manager David Clarke said the new premises catered for expanding staff numbers and would enable the branch to better service rural farmers and agribusinesses in the Canterbury region.

“We’ve almost doubled in staff numbers in the last decade so we’re excited to move to modern, newer premises with improved technology and more space, which will allow us to grow into the future,” he said. . . .

New Zealand’s First Masterclass for Home Winemakers?

Wine enthusiasts, as well as new and seasoned home winemakers, can learn the secrets of the profession from veteran vintner Justin Oliver.

Oliver is from Matakana’s famous Mt Tamahunga Vineyard and has over 20 years industry winemaking experience at wineries throughout New Zealand and in California. He is also Senior Cidermaker at Zeffer Cider and has distilled professionally. Oliver is in the throes of launching his own wine brand, Free Range Wine Co, specialising in premium wine on tap. 

The Syrah grapes that Mt Tamahunga make into $50 a bottle wine can also be pre-purchased from makewine.co.nz to be collected at the masterclass. The supply is very limited this year – and will be sold on a first in first served. Mt Tamahunga vineyard is one of oldest in the area. It was first planted by the Vuletic brothers for the famous Antipodean Farm wine label of the 1980′s. People may remember a 5-litre bottle of this Bordeaux-styled red selling for $5000 at auction. Those were the days! The Syrah vines were planted in 2004 by new owners, for the premium Mt Tamahunga wine label.  . .


Rural round-up

April 15, 2014

GM in NZ on farming leader’s agenda - Tony Benny:

A visit to Argentina has left Federated Farmers vice-president Dr William Rolleston even more convinced New Zealand should not close the door on GM agriculture.

“I stood in a field of genetically modified soya beans, amongst hundreds of thousands of acres of genetically modified crops which they are using to have some beneficial effect on their environment but also to ramp up their production,” Rolleston said.

While his support for GM is already well known, Rolleston said he made a point of mentioning the issue in a speech at the North Canterbury branch of Federated Farm-ers’ AGM so that he couldn’t be accused of keeping his views secret should he later became Feds president.

“We need to have a sensible debate,” he said. . .

 

Dairy price ‘worm has turned’ downward – ASB  – Niko Kloetin:

Milk prices are tipped to fall again at tonight’s global dairy auction.

ASB says prices could drop another 10 per cent.

In more bad news for dairy farmers, the bank said the New Zealand dollar could remain high against the United States dollar if the American economy did not improve.

In its Farmshed Economics newsletter, ASB said “the worm has turned” on dairy prices, which are down almost 20 per cent in the past two months.

Driving prices down has been a lift in milk production, which ASB forecasts will increase by 11 per cent this season compared with last season. . .

Secrets to sharemilking success - Gerald Piddock:

James and Melissa Barbour’s strong relationship with their farm owner and staff has propelled the sharemilking couple to the top in their field.

The Waikato Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners credit these relationships for their success and place a lot of emphasis on maintaining them.

They 50:50 sharemilk 355 cows for Joan De Renzynts at Matamata. Both are 28 years old, and are in their seventh season and third position 50:50 sharemilking.

They take on board what De Renzy says and work as a team along with assistant Hayden Thompson. . .

Brainstorming conference expected – Yvonne O’Hara:

The possible reintroduction of an industry levy and ”the way forward” for profitability and sustainability for the goat industry will be the focus of the inaugural New Zealand Goats (NZGoats) conference in Queenstown next month.

Mohair New Zealand Inc, Meat Goat New Zealand (MGNZ), the New Zealand Boer Goat Breeders Association and NZGoats will all be holding their annual meetings during the same weekend, May 23 to 25.

NZ Goats chairwoman Dawn Sangster, of Patearoa, said those interested in feral or dairy goats or in the industry in general were also invited. . .

Last few weeks of hard prep for dairy trainee  – Yvonne O’Hara:

It is only a little more than four weeks to go before Josh Lavender, of Lochiel, is up against the nations’ other ”best of the best” dairy trainees, so he is spending as much time as he can preparing.

Mr Lavender (26) won the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards’ Southland Otago Dairy Trainee of the Year a month ago and since then has combined work as 2IC on a 752-cow property near Lochiel with catching up with study for his Production Management Level 5 through Primary ITO, preparing a DVD and speech for the nationals, and learning as much as he can about the industry. . .

Cloudy Bay’s new vintage redefines Chardonnay:

The winemaking philosophy of Cloudy Bay chardonnay revolves around a very stripped back approach. Juice in the barrel is settled for a very short time without the use of enzyme to retain a high level of solids. Following this is a long indigenous fermentation, taking place in barrel.

“These techniques work together to build complexity of flavour, but more importantly they contribute texture and architecture to the palate,” explains Tim Heath. “It takes our wine beyond simple fruit flavour. It is a wine to watch and speaks of its origin.” . . .


Rural round-up

April 13, 2014

Drought great time to show some compassion – James Houghton:

Another week and no drought declaration yet it is the second driest year on record in Waikato, and my has it revealed some peoples true colours! Default settings with graziers contracts are being ignored, and cooperatives are pretending there is no drought.

Farmers and graziers need to be working together through times like this. Not allowing for the affects of the drought to be considered and holding graziers to their contracts, can see them loosing money on a daily basis, trying to feed your stock. To expect a grazier to lose money to look after your stock shows no sense of community, which is what gets us through these adverse weather conditions, and could ostracise you in the long run. People do not forget unkindness. It goes both ways – if you are not showing flexibility on your grazing contracts, it could have a detrimental affect for you next time there is a drought, graziers could start charging you 10 to 50 percent more next time round.  It pays to compare that to the money you are saving in the short term, and whether it is really worth it. . .

Changing beef outlook - Allan Barber:

There have been some interesting beef market developments in recent days.

 Of immediate interest is the news of a forecast excess of US exports over production in the second half of the year as against a relatively small increase in production, reported in the USDA livestock supply and demand report which was released yesterday.

 This leads to a prediction of firmer prices for lean beef, although this will coincide with the seasonal downturn in New Zealand production. Australia is expected to be in a good position to take advantage of this situation.

 The other item of interest is the bi-lateral trade agreement between Japan and Australia which will reduce the tariff on frozen beef from 38.5% to 19.5% over 18 years and on fresh beef to 23.5% over 15 years. . .

Dairy Pawn – Milk Maid Marian:

These days, I feel a little like a chess piece; more pawn than queen.

The Australian federal government has rushed into a free trade agreement with Japan that does next-to-nothing to help Aussie dairy break through tariff barriers, even though Japan is hardly known for a growing dairy industry of its own that deserves protection. I don’t know why we were overlooked but a Sydney Morning Herald story quotes Warren Truss as citing “compromises”.

It’s been an interesting few days for dairy. Coincidentally, the ACCC forced supermarket superpower, Coles, to confess that it was lying when it claimed the $1 milk had not hurt dairy farmers. . .

Farmers back major Local Government NZ funding review:

Federated Farmers is fully behind a fundamental review by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) into the way local government and local roads are funded.

“LGNZ deserves praise for tackling a ticking time bomb made up of demographics and an ever narrowing funding base for council services and our local roads,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Local Government spokesperson.

“This affects everyone but it is especially pronounced in our rural districts.

“Federated Farmers is very keen to participate in this review because for years, we have lobbied for alternative funding options over the antiquated narrow property value basis, we use for rating.

“LGNZ’s review is the biggest advance since the 2007 Local Government Rates Inquiry, which emerged from public unease over the rates burden. . .

Meat and fibre’s going green - Jeanette Maxwell :

I have been told by a staff member that a major retirement village operator has specified only nylon carpet for its villages. I don’t want to reveal the name just yet as we will be contacting them, let alone the Campaign for Wool, but it dumbfounds me. 

If it is what I suspect, a spurious concern over linting, then that’s a specification issue.  It seems very strange to deny people the choice of healthy natural fibres especially in a retirement village because natural wool is good for you.

A big benefit of wool is outstanding flame resistance.  Having a high moisture and protein content it tends to extinguish flames and does not melt or drip either like synthetics.  Wool also stabilises relative humidity by absorbing or releasing moisture during periods of high or low atmospheric humidity. That’s a benefit from evolution.

If wool is maintained then it will absorb and neutralise airborne particles and fumes such as formaldehyde, sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxides.  Wool is also resistant to static build up and being naturally curly, bounces back into shape after being crushed.   . . .

Awards spur on young dairy trainee  – Gerald Piddock:

Entering the Dairy Industry Awards has helped motivate Nathan Hubbard to focus on how he can improve his performance and progress his dairying career.

The 26-year-old, who was recently named Waikato Dairy Trainee of the Year for 2014 said he entered the competition to show future employers his dedication to the industry.

“I want to challenge my knowledge against others at the same level that are motivated and thriving to succeed like I am.”

It was the second time he had entered the awards. After not making the top six on the first occasion, Hubbard said he was determined to do better this year. . .

‘Expensive brand beats expensive land’ - Tim Cronsahw:

Dairy farmers need to demand that dairy giant Fonterra invests heavily in brand development if increasing costs are to be offset by high-priced milk products, says a food marketing expert.

Global food and drink industry international speaker Professor David Hughes said New Zealand’s dairy companies had to spend more on developing patented clever dairy brands as domestic milk growth could not continue at its same rate forever.

“If you want to see Fonterra and smaller companies have higher valued products, they have to spend more on branding and research and development, and to do that has to be through brave farmer leadership saying hold on to more [revenue] and invest it on our behalf for our longer term, and don’t send it back to the farm and there would lots of farmers who don’t agree with that,” said Hughes who spoke at the Zoetis Dairy Summit in Christchurch this week. . .

Millar, Clark lead charge for dog trialling glory - Tim Cronshaw:

Every dog has its day, but only a select few will make the final cut at the Tux New Zealand and South Island Sheep Dog Trial Championship trials at Waihi Station near Geraldine next month.

As many as 300 competitors and their canine partners will line up for each of the four main national events in the main feature of the dog trialling calendar. The heading events are the long head and short head and yard and the huntaway events are the zigzag hunt and the straight hunt.

In good form is Stu Millar from Peak Hill Station who, with dog Rose, is the defending champion of the national short head and yard event in Taupo last year.

Canterbury Sheep Dog Trial Association promotions officer Sally Mallinson said the club trials had yet to be completed, but several Canterbury competitors and their dogs were standing out as possible contenders at the South Island and national events. . .

 


Rural round-up

April 11, 2014

Farmers back irrigation feasibility study:

A planned large-scale irrigation scheme in South Canterbury has got enough farmer backing for it to carry out an in depth feasibility study.

The Hunter Downs Irrigation Scheme, which could irrigate up to 40,000 hectares of land from Waitaki to just south of Timaru, also has significant financial backing from the Government.

Hunter Downs Irrigation chairman Andrew Fraser says they’ve been going through a capital raising process over the last several weeks – and have managed to get over the threshold of 20,000 hectares of farmer uptake.

“This funding will enable us to do a feasibility study and so that will tell us whether the scheme is economically and technically viable so we hope to have that result back out to the shareholders and farmers by the end of the year.”

Mr Fraser says the capital raising period has been extended as the scheme gauges corporate interest and speaks to more farmers in the area. . .

Winners committed to pushing farming change - Gerald Piddock:

Mike and Sharon Barton’s innovative approach to farming in an environmentally sensitive area has earned them the supreme title in the 2014 Waikato Farm Environment Awards.

The Western Taupo beef farmers were presented with the award as well as category awards for soil management and innovation at a ceremony near Karapiro last night.

The Barton’s farm at Glen Emmreth Farm near Tihoi. They purchased the 142ha property in 2004 at a time when strict environmental legislation to protect the health of the lake was looming.

They faced this challenge head-on, determined to make their farm as environmentally sustainable as possible. . .

Farmers warned to tidy up act:

Federated Farmers is warning farmers not to risk making the dairy industry a scapegoat at this year’s general election through poor farm practices.

In a message to farmers, dairy chairman Willy Leferink said he was worried they could be negatively portrayed during the election campaign and they needed to do the basics properly to avoid bad publicity.

Visual aspects of the industry needing to be tidied up, and that could help create a better public image, Mr Leferink said. . .

Call for better health and safety on farms after death -  Collette Devlin:

Farming is a hazardous occupation and the number of injuries and deaths on Southland farms must come down, industry insiders say.

They are calling for better health and safety awareness on farms.

The issue has been put in the spotlight by the tragic death of fertiliser truck driver Les Cain, killed when the truck he was driving overturned on a northern Southland farm on Tuesday.

Southland Federated Farmers president Russell MacPherson said one farm death was one too many.

The old attitude of ‘she’ll be right’ needed to disappear from the industry. . .

Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year – Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – RivettingKateTaylor:

Well done to Hugh and Sharon Ritchie – Hawke’s Bay Farmers of the Year.

I’ve just been writing about Hugh lately as I am doing the Nuffield NZ newsletter and he has just retired after 12 years as a trustee (we also went through Young Farmers together, although I hasten to add he is older than me!!!  Hugh, Shane Tilson and I won a national debating final in 1995!)

So last night (back to the important news) they were awarded the prestigious Silver Fern Farms Hawke’s Bay Farmer of the Year title in front of 350 people at a dinner at Showgrounds Hawke’s Bay (well done on great night Hillary). . .

D2S ‘growing at a rate of knots’:

Wool growers have rallied behind Wools of New Zealand’s Direct-to-Scour (D2S) spot market sales option.

Launched in October last year, volumes under D2S are doubling month on month and have now reached around 350,000 kgs, with annualised volumes expected to reach between 3.5m – 4m kilograms within its first year, about 8% of the market.

Ross Townshend, Chief Executive of Wools of New Zealand told shareholder growers and supporters during the company’s roadshow series of 12 national meetings this week that the system was “simpler and put more money into the pockets of growers than the conventional model. It makes logical sense for growers’ wool to go to the first point of processing which is the scour where it can be core-sampled, independently tested, objectively assessed and fairly priced. . . .

Wool Market Defies Dollar:

New Zealand Wool Services International Limited’s General Manager, Mr John Dawson reports that despite a resurgent New Zealand dollar the South Island offering of 11,500 bales saw most types range from firm to 3 percent dearer. Even with the strength of the sale and an 86 percent clearance, some growers were still unprepared to accept current market levels with 13 percent of the offering being passed in.

The weighted indicator for the main trading currencies was 1.36 percent up on the last sale on 3rd April.

Mr Dawson advises that Fine Crossbred Fleece and Shears were between 1 and 3 percent firmer. . .


Rural round-up

April 7, 2014

Understanding Fonterra gets even harder – Pattrick Smellie:

Ask anyone with half an eye on the New Zealand economy what’s leading its current recovery and they’ll tell you two things.

First: the Canterbury rebuild.

And second: the extraordinary boom in both the price and volume of dairy industry exports.

The dairy boom being what it is, you’d think the country’s only multi-national company with global scale, Fonterra, would have produced a stonking half-year profit result last week.

Not so.. .

Pukeuri meatworks still waiting for China go-ahead - Daniel Birchfield:

A resolution to the ongoing certification issue surrounding Alliance Group’s Pukeuri plant looks no closer to being resolved.

The plant’s certification for China was suspended by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in July, after incorrectly labelled product was shipped to China.

Alliance Group general manager of processing, Kerry Stevens, said at this stage there was “no change” to the current situation.

Stevens declined to comment on how the issue at Pukeuri was affecting Timaru’s Smithfield plant in terms of staffing. . .

Farmers walk the environmental talk – Alan Wills:

. . . In a nut shell farming has a great future in New Zealand. We have our challenges but the long term future in my opinion is better than just good.

Why? We are naturally good farmers.  We have the climate and water availability in some areas to take the vagrancies out of seasonal production.  Globally this is called the ‘pastoral sweet spot’ and there aren’t too many countries in the world in it.

We have very good infrastructure here and abroad to effectively market what we produce. We have very focused research and development supporting us to stay on the front foot.  Politically, our Westminister type democracy provides stability and stability begets confidence.  I can think of one country that is like our twin except for politics and policies that shoots its economy in the foot.  Here, nothing is going to fall over by revolution or in a coup. 

Finally, we can produce food products in particular that the rest of developing world wants.

All of these attributes are vital in any successful production and marketing process. . .

If the IPCC backs adaptation, political parties should too:

The release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment report’s chapter on Australasia, reinforces science, research and water storage are fundamental to New Zealand’s adaptive response.

“The IPCC report contains both good and bad news for the New Zealand farm system and New Zealand as a whole,” says Dr William Rolleston, Federated Farmers Vice-President, who has recently returned from the World Farmers Organisation’s General-Assembly.

“The report predicts that New Zealand will likely become drier in the northeast of the South Island as well as the east and north of the North Island.  On the other side of the ledger, it will likely become wetter in the south of the South Island. 

“This will change pest pressure and biosecurity risks and the effectiveness of biocontrols. . .

Tikorangi dairy farm takes top Taranaki award:

A TIKORANGI dairy farming operation is the inaugural winner of the 2014 Taranaki Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

It was described by judges as an outstanding example of best dairying practise.

The region’s first Supreme title was presented to Gavin and Oliver Faull, Faull Farms, and their sharemilkers, Tony and Loie Penwarden, at a special Ballance Farm Environment Awards ceremony on April 3. . .

Precision farmers feature of Fert and Lime Conference:

THE WORD improvisation can conjure images of ad hoc solutions and a slightly less than professional approach, but when it comes to precision agriculture, it’s not a dirty word: in fact, it’s exactly what’s needed, says one of New Zealand’s leading academics on the subject.

 Out of necessity, New Zealand farmers have become inherently good at improvising over the years and that background will stand them in good stead with the growing array of precision farming techniques becoming available, says Professor of Precision Agriculture at Massey University Ian Yule. . .

 

 

 


Rural round-up

March 28, 2014

Dairy factories spending up – Alan Wood & Cecile Meier:

South Island dairy processors are upsizing with nearly $135 million of extra factory investment to chase a growing milk powder export market.

Synlait Milk yesterday committed an extra $32m to help expand milk drying capacity at its Dunsandel plant.

Competitor Westland Milk Products said it would invest $102m on a new nutritionals-infant formula dryer in Hokitika.

Both companies have undergone rapid growth, though yesterday NZX-listed Synlait Milk said issues remained with the Chinese infant formula market. . . .

Westland dairy expansion welcomed by most - Cecile Meier:

Despite a few reservations, Hokitika’s community supports Westland Milk Products’ plans to expand its dairy factory with a $102 million new nutritional milk dryer.

The Westland District Council held a hearing this week on the company’s resource consent application to build the new spray dryer.

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said the move would bring excellent employment prospects for the region.

Hundreds of farmer suppliers to Westland Milk would also benefit from the added value the new facility could bring to their milk.

“Dairy farming is going from strength to strength. It’s a very good move for the West Coast.” . . .

 

Big dry is being monitored closely - James Houghton:

Many of you are wondering why the Government has not declared a drought in Waikato and Northland areas.  Whilst, they do not actually declare a drought as such, when appropriate, the Government can declare the impact of a drought as an adverse event under its Primary Sector Recovery Policy, and provide recovery assistance. For this to happen, basically you and the community have got to not be coping. The declaration of an adverse event is not about the event itself, but rather the impact of the event.

It is important for you as a community to understand this and take stock of how bad the situation really is, and what value a declaration will actually bring. There would not be a lot of financial support for those struggling unless they are at the point where they are struggling to or can’t meet their living costs. The declaration would provide some funding for the Rural Support Trusts; however, on this particular occasion they have made themselves available for contact regardless.

I can assure you the Ministry for Primary Industries has been monitoring the conditions over the last few months by keeping close contact with Federated Farmers and other stakeholders to understand if farmers are coping. They are not in any doubt that a drought does exist, and they are monitoring the situation closely. . . .

Rare native fish found on farm:

A farm restoration project has led to a fishy discovery for Rory Foley.

Foley has a deer farm in the Hook catchment, near Waimate in South Canterbury.

He has spent the past few years improving parts of the catchment that were previously degraded.

However, the efforts have also led to an unlikely spin-off effect, which was only discovered in the past couple of months: the area is now home to rare mudfish. . .

 Synlait Milk shares punished for over-optimistic forecasts, Chinese regulatory speed bumps - Jonathan Underhill:

(BusinessDesk) – Investors punished Synlait Milk shares after the dairy processor was forced to wind back the bullish profit forecast it gave in January because of disruptions from increased Chinese regulations on infant formula and unfavourable foreign exchange movements.

The stock dropped 7.3 percent to a three-week low of $3.70, trimming their gains from last year’s initial public offering to 68 percent. The full-year profit forecast was cut to a range of $25 million to $30 million, down from the $30 million-to-$35 million estimate given in January, Synlait said today.

“In January we under-estimated the full impact,” managing director John Penno told BusinessDesk. “The Chinese regulations had been signalled for some time but what’s become apparent since December is how fast they are going to move.” . . .

Farm Days’ a marketing and educational success:

Federated Farmers Farm Days are a huge success in education and tourism. The Federation’s Bay of Plenty province saw 980 people come through the farm gate on Sunday to see what farming is all about.

“Our Farm Day is a great way for everyone to get involved in the region’s rural community. This year was a particular success with 60 percent of the visitors having either never been on farm or to a Farm Day before,” said Rick Powdrell, Federated Farmers Bay of Plenty provincial president.

“It is an opportunity to get urban people out, especially the children, to learn where their food comes from. Regardless of what age the visitors were they said they all learnt something. . .

Iconic North Island farm sells:

One of the most highly valued sheep and beef properties in New Zealand has been sold. The 4,839 hectare Mangaohane Station located just off the Taihape to Napier Highway between the Rangitikei River and the Ruahine Forest Park.

It has been sold by the family of previous owner, the late Jim Bull. Jim was known as ‘The Potato King”, and bought Mangaohane at auction in 1973 for what was then a record price.

During the last 40 years, the property has been dramatically transformed – with 1500 hectares of scrub cleared, and a further 1200 hectares of tussock developed into top quality high producing pasture. . . .

 


Rural round-up

March 27, 2014

Guy prepared to help, but unwilling to interfere - Allan Barber:

Nathan Guy gave a very positive speech to Beef + Lamb NZ’s AGM on Saturday which covered three major points: what the government is doing for farmers, his vision for the red meat sector and thoughts on the discussions about industry structure.

Obviously, given MPI’s bullish view of agricultural exports, the Minister was extremely positive about economic performance. However he was at pains to point out the government’s role as an enabler, citing his focus on biosecurity resources, trade negotiations for market access, and investment in research.

He began by referring to his intention to strengthen resources at the border and to establish Government Industry Agreements (GIA) with various sectors which will ultimately involve the private sector in sharing the costs of biosecurity; different sectors are at various stages of negotiation on this issue. . . .

Project explores the potential of EID:

Warren Ayers farms 890ha of rolling country near Wyndham. The property runs 600 Perendale stud ewes and another 5,700 commercial ewes.

Lambing averages 135 per cent and lambs are finished to 17kg. Two-year-old replacement heifers are bought in annually for the 120-head Angus cow herd. Every year, all but the lightest 10 calves are sold at weaning. The policy is simple to manage and keeps the genetics of the herd diversified sufficiently that the same bull can be used for several years. For the past five years, the property has also wintered 650 dairy cows.

Warren has EID tagged his stud animals since 2006 and the commercial two-tooths have been tagged since 2009. . .

Fonterra begins construction on new IDR357 billion plant in Indonesia:

Fonterra today commenced construction on its first blending and packing plant in Indonesia, which will support the growth of its market leading consumer brands Anlene, Anmum and Anchor Boneeto.

Located in West Java, the plant is Fonterra’s first manufacturing facility in the country and its largest investment in a new manufacturing facility in ASEAN in the last 10 years.

Director General of Agro Industry at the Ministry of Industry, Panggah Susanto, joined Fonterra at an event in Jakarta to mark the official start of construction today.

Pascal De Petrini, Managing Director of Fonterra Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa (APMEA), said that Fonterra Brands Manufacturing Indonesia Cikarang Plant will allow Fonterra to meet the ever-growing demand for dairy nutrition in Indonesia. . .

Dry conditions in Northland and Waikato remain a big concern:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says dry conditions in parts of Waikato and Northland remain a serious concern.

“Local authorities in Northland have announced the western parts of their region are in drought. This reflects the tough few months they’ve had as pasture has browned off.

“Cyclone Lusi has helped green tinges appear in some places, but the rainfall was erratic and insufficient. Western Northland and large parts of the Waikato remain very dry.

“The Ministry for Primary Industries is keeping a close eye on conditions here and elsewhere. I’ve seen for myself how dry things are on two trips to the Waikato in the last two weeks. . .

West Coast Northland drought declaration a relief:

The adverse event declaration covering drought in Northland’s West Coast the declaration will not provide a lot of direct financial assistance but will provide huge psychological relief.

“New Zealanders will get an inkling of what the guys on Northland’s West Coast have been going through. Not just since November, but since 2012 and even before that,” says Roger Ludbrook, Federated Farmers Northland provincial president.

“The big thing a declaration triggers is the Northland Rural Support Trust, so any farmer can approach the RST for free advice on farm management, or just someone to have a decent chinwag with.

“Beyond this, it doesn’t mean much financially unless the absolute worst happens. There is a safety net, but it is exactly the same as for any other New Zealander and carries the same eligibility rules.

“Then there is Inland Revenue and to be fair to them they aren’t unapproachable. . .

Drought-affected farmers encouraged to talk to their banks

Drought-affected farmers should talk to their banks said the New Zealand Bankers’ Association in response to increasingly dry conditions in parts of Northland and Waikato.

“We encourage any farmers facing hardship as a result of the lack of rain to contact their bank to discuss options for assistance and how they can work through these challenging conditions,” said New Zealand Bankers’ Association chief executive Kirk Hope. . . .

Fonterra profit down but revenue on track to break $20 billion:

Fonterra Cooperative Group’s half year results means it could be back on track to break the $20 billion revenue barrier; corporate New Zealand’s ‘four minute mile.’

“I think the fall in operating profit will grab attention instead of where it ought to be focussed, on revenue,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy chairperson.

“This is real money coming into the New Zealand economy.  I mean revenue for the half-year is up 21 percent to $11.3 billion.  While we’ve got close to the $20 billion barrier in the past, this time, we’ve got a real chance of breaking it.

“That said, the declared drought in Northland along with drought-like conditions in the upper North Island could act like a brake.  We’ve also seen GlobalDairyTrade retreat in recent trading events due in part to increased volume. . .

Pengxin picks up former Fonterra executive Romanos for NZ Milk role, report says:

(BusinessDesk) – Shanghai Pengxin has hired Gary Romano, who resigned from Fonterra Cooperative Group last year during the botulism scare, to oversee the Chinese company’s overseas operations including its New Zealand farms, the NZ Herald reports.

Romano’s Linked In profile says he is “currently on the beach before becoming active again in 2014.” He resigned as head of NZ Milk Products at Fonterra last August as the company embarked on a global recall of whey protein concentrate. The bacterium was eventually shown to be harmless.

He will become chief executive of NZ Milk Management and a director of Pengxin’s two farm groups in the North Island and South Island, according to the Herald. Terry Lee, managing director of Pengxin’s Milk New Zealand unit, didn’t immediately return calls. . .

Samoa sheep farming increasing:

Sheep farming in Samoa is growing through a programme funded by the World Bank.

Under the Samoa Agriculture Competitiveness Enhancement Project, the World Bank is helping develop livestock, fruits and vegetable farming.

Sheep were introduced in Samoa in 2004, with the flock now grown to 700. . .

Macca’s hits milestone of three million kilos of Angus

AngusPure recognises programme as instrumental to success of Angus demand

McDonald’s New Zealand today announced it has sold a whopping three million kilograms of New Zealand Angus beef since 2009. With today’s launch of the promotional Angus the Great burger, the company expects to continue its contribution to the success of local Angus beef sales

This milestone is acknowledged by AngusPure’s chairman Tim Brittain, who says the ‘McAngus’ programme has been instrumental in helping grow the demand for Angus cattle, and that Kiwi farmers have been well rewarded since the original launch of the Angus burger range in 2009. . .


Rural round-up

March 26, 2014

Environment and the economy are one in the same thing – Lynda Murchison:

“It’s a classic case of environment versus economics”, commented Parliamentary Commissioner Jan Wright in her report into water quality.

Economics certainly plays a part in addressing water quality issues but as a geographer, environmental planner and farmer I cannot look at fresh water as a choice between economics and the environment. The notion that environmental protection and economic development are potentially conflicting goals is not, in my view, a recipe for success. It removes any expectation that businesses should take responsibility for protecting the environment; or that environmentalists need to consider social or economic costs of environmental outcomes.

In my world, economic and environmental considerations are two sides of the same coin. It is hard to be green if you are in the red; but you cannot have long-term social or economic prosperity if you undermine the natural capital you rely on to create it. This link between economics and the environment is recognised in the purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991, the main statute that manages natural and physical resources in New Zealand. The purpose of the Act is not about economic development, nor environmental protection. It is to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources – a concept that encompasses environmental, economic, cultural and social well-being. . .

PGP Forestry programme takes big step forward:

Primary Industries Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew are welcoming commercialisation of new forestry technology this week as a big step forward in improving both productivity and safety.

“The Steepland Harvesting Programme is a very exciting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) project, with $6 million in joint funding from the industry and the Government and a vision of ‘No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw’,” says Mr Guy.

The new technology involves harvesting on steep slopes using new mechanised technology, rather than exposing forestry workers to risk.

The project was demonstrated to around 55 forestry contractors and company representatives at a Future Forest Research field day in Maungataniwha forest near Napier this week.

“These are the first products from the Steepland Harvesting Programme to be put into commercial use, which is an outstanding accomplishment,” says Mr Guy. . .

Federated Farmers looks beyond China exports:

The Prime Minister has focused on pushing trade with China this week, but sheep and beef farmers are trying to push their products to as many markets as possible.

The industry has faced a number of hurdles in recent years, including drought, a high Kiwi dollar and problems with Chinese border controls.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair Jeanette Maxwell says while much of the talk is about more trade with China, her industry believes it is important to get into multiple markets. . .

Fonterra food scare good for Irish milk industry:

Ireland’s Agriculture & Food Minister says Irish dairy companies gained new business off New Zealand during Fonterra’s food scare crisis last year.

Simon Coveney has been in New Zealand to learn how Ireland could also become a global dairy giant.

Mr Coveney told TVNZ’s Q+A programme, that at the time of the food crisis, customers were worried about relying on New Zealand suppliers:

“At the time of that difficulty I had a number of trade missions at the time. One was to the Middle East, and people were starting to say to me, look we source a lot from New Zealand, we like New Zealand we like Fonterra, we think they give us very good product, but we think we’re overly reliant on one supplier. And so a lot of countries are now looking at Ireland as a second supplier in case something goes wrong with their primary supply source.” . . .

Poor rail threatens food boom – Julie-Anne Sprague:

THE disgraceful state of rural railways means grain growers could become uncompetitive and miss out on big profits from the Asian food boom, warns GrainCorp chairman Don Taylor.

The chairman of eastern Australia’s biggest grains handler says urgent spending is needed on the railways.

“We don’t have any right to benefit from the food boom; we have to earn it,” Taylor tells The Australian Financial Review.

“The Canadians want to participate in [the Asian food boom]. The Ukranians are investing and doing things to participate in it. . .

How much would you pay for socks? – James Griffin:

How much would you pay for socks? Socks, actual socks that go on your feet, one per foot, not socks as a euphemism for a word that sounds a lot like “socks”.

Think about it a moment. Then settle on the absolute highest amount of dosh you would be willing to lay out for one pair of socks.

If that number is $1744.88 (or thereabouts, depending on what the exchange rate today is for £895) then, boy, have I got the socks for you. . . .

 


Rural round-up

March 22, 2014

Chinese trade target sky-high – Hugh Stringleman:

Prime Minister John Key and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed to aim for $30 billion of bi-lateral trade between New Zealand and China by 2020.

That would be an increase of 65% over the total of two-way trade last year, when NZ sold China almost $10b of exports, mostly from the primary sector, and imported $8.2b.

In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing they also agreed to modernise the free-trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have great confidence that the coming years will see trade between us increase at a very fast pace,” Key said. . .

No time to penny-pinch on TB – James Houghton:

Looking at the week that was, we have seen Fish & Game come out with a survey full of leading questions, three of our top agricultural science centers lose Government funding, and the Ministry for Primary Industries taking Fonterra to court. One might take that as a bad week, but this is a standard one for agriculture.

What is important to note is that we deal with a lot of negativity on a day-to-day basis and part of that is because we hold ourselves to a very high standard. However, looking at an average week you can get drowned in the negativity and lose sight of the bigger picture. All these things that are happening around us can seem like a blur of madness, some are but some things are for the big picture, for our children, and theirs.

Locally, we are dealing with the Waikato regional draft Annual Plan, which the council are looking to withdraw their direct funding from the national strategy of pest eradication. The National Pest Strategy, funded by the Animal Health Board, has been focusing on high-risk areas, such as Waikato, to rid the country of TB. The work is achieved by eradicating possums, with TB, from the province, and is spear headed by TB Free New Zealand and OSPRI. . .

The nitty gritty of the nitrate debate –   Lynda Murchison:

We are a part of the water quality discussion in some shape or form, and we get our information from many sources.  A major focus has been on nitrogen losses from farming. If nitrogen is one of the key ingredients in this national conversation, it ought to be explained beyond the notion that it is all about cows in streams.  The science can be complex and the explanations mind-boggling; here’s my simple geographer-farmer take on it.

Why should we care how nitrogen loss is managed? Farmers care because their future flexibility and thus viability is at stake, and like most New Zealanders they want a sustainable future that allows for agricultural growth whilst enjoying healthy waterways. The rest of the population should care because the flexibility and productivity of farming, our ability to feed the world, is what makes New Zealand tick.

Recently, the Ministry for Primary Industries revised their projections for earnings in the primary sector for the 2013-14 year, up another $4.9 billion to $36.5 billion. From that, the direct economic contribution farmers make to the Christchurch economy is estimated at $750 million per year, an impressive feat. One can only assume that contribution is even more significant in smaller provincial cities and towns. . .

Let’s Broadcast Rural New Zealand – Jamie Mackay:

It was the only option available but watching the excellent on-line live stream of the Golden Shears Open final was yet another salutary reminder of how  mainstream media in this country, most notably television, pays lip service to farming and rural New Zealand in general.

Country Calendar is an institution on New Zealand television, only bettered by Coronation Street for longevity. Heck, its most loved voice Frank Torley would probably give Ken Barlow a run for his money for length of tenure on the telly.  

I don’t wish to sound dismissive about the iconic Country Calendar because it is a rural flagship and rates well in its 7pm Saturday spot.  However, I would argue it’s a show designed more for townies than rural folk, as can be attested by the prevalence of quirky lifestyle stories it features.

But what Country Calendar does prove is there’s an appetite out there for television featuring rural New Zealand.  However, this message is not getting through the solid craniums (euphemism for thick skulls) of television programmers. . .

Homewood Run – Lashings of meat right way to eat -Alan Emmerson:

Those who have read my columns will know my philosophy of not getting to the top of the food chain to be a vegetarian.

I can remember, as a relatively young journalist, of the panic over saturated fat, the health risks associated with eating meat and dairy products.

Back then the doomsayers were trying to convert the world to mung beans and the like, for the good of their health of course.

Fortunately few listened and we continued eating meat, butter, and cheese.

Now, according to an article in the New York Times, the myths have been dispelled. . .

The Peterson Farm Bros’ Beef with Chipotle (Part 1)  – Greg Peterson:

Many have probably seen or heard about Chipotle’s commercial, “The Scarecrow” and their recent video series, “Farmed and Dangerous.” Chipotle claims these spots are shedding light on the “inhumane” and “unsustainable” nature of “industrial farming.” They try to use the videos to inform people of the perceived problems with the current food system, such as the difference between meat that is ethically raised and meat that isn’t. Their approach seems genuine and sincere at first and is attracting a lot of attention from consumers. I’m certain that Chipotle is doing a lot of positive things with their “food with integrity” approach and to be clear, I do agree with the general ideals Chipotle claims they are supporting:

  • The consumer does deserve healthy meat from humanely raised animals
  • The family farmer is who should be raising their food
  • Ethical behavior should be of greater concern than profit.

What I don’t agree with is Chipotle’s definitions of family farmers, humanely raised animals, and ethical behavior. . .


Feds concerned by 111 coverage

March 22, 2014

Federated farmers is concerned about emergency responsiveness and 111 coverage after it took a farmer about 30 minutes to get through to an operator after she trod in a wasps’ nest.

. . . “Given the 111 service is a rural lifeline, Federated Farmers was troubled to learn Janet Kelland struggled to get through for upwards of 30 minutes,” says Katie Milne, Federated Farmers Rural Security spokesperson.

“Telecom/Spark’s Telecommunications Service Obligation is relevant here because it must answer 111 calls within 15 seconds. 

“Federated Farmers is calling on Telecom/Spark to make sure it meets its TSO obligations and a formal complaint from Janet would help to trigger this. 

“Cellular network performance at the time needs to be looked into as well as the mapping software being used by the ambulance call centre.  A farmer repeatedly stung by wasps could have died for want of a connection.

“After getting clear Janet rang 111 and sometimes it would ring she told us and sometimes there was silence.  While cell reception can be random in rural areas she has reception on her farm and good reception from where she tried to call from.

“Janet told Federated Farmers that it took 30-minutes before she got through to an operator.  Even then after asking for an ambulance she was cut off. 

“She did get through but when she gave her address the operator insisted it did not exist.  While Janet resorted to some agricultural language, who could blame her given she was in agony.

“Clearly there are several issues that need to be looked at.  There also seems to be a pressing need to review mapping software because Janet’s address is in the White Pages.

“We note the 2012 review said that the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment will be working with emergency service providers and the telecommunications sector to investigate new technology. 

“Now seems a good time to start,” Mrs Milne concluded.

Mobile coverage is variable in the country but with RAPID (Rural Address Property Identification Numbers) there should be no problem with an address.

We’ve called 111 twice.

The first time was the night our son stopped breathing.

I started CPR while my farmer called for help. In those days 111 calls went to the local hospital and the man who answered the phone used to shear for us. As soon as he knew it was my farmer he said he’d tell the ambulance how to get there and told my farmer to hang up, ring our GP.

The second time was last December towards the end of a party when one of the guests stumbled, fell and knocked himself out.

I dialled 111, got straight through, had no problem with the address and the ambulance was here in less than 30 minutes.

However, both those calls were from landlines.

Staff who’ve had to call emergency services from our farm have managed to do so without problems, but there’s an element of luck in that they happened to be where they had reasonable coverage when they needed it.

Even in the 21st century you can’t expect 100% mobile coverage but you shouldn’t have to argue about your address.


Rural round-up

March 20, 2014

Charmaine O’Shea takes 2014 Dairy Woman of the Year title:

Northland dairy farmer and Chartered Accountant Charmaine O’Shea was named the Dairy Woman of the Year last night at a gala dinner held by the Dairy Women’s Network in Hamilton.

With more than 20 years’ dairy farming and financial expertise, O’Shea has played an important role in improving the profitability of the New Zealand dairy industry through strong financial, environmental and people performance.

She is an equity partner in a Maungatapere dairy farm with brother Shayne. The sibling’s robust environmental stewardship and actions to demonstrate best farming practices were recognised last year when they were named the 2013 Northland Supreme Ballance Farm Environment Award winners. . .

Fonterra Launches China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre:

Fonterra today announced the launch of the China-New Zealand Dairy Exchange Centre in Beijing. The Centre is a joint initiative between Fonterra and China’s National Dairy Industry and Technology System to support the sustainable development of the dairy industry in both countries.

“It is a key priority for Fonterra to contribute to the development of the Chinese dairy industry and we believe there is a lot to be gained by both New Zealand and China through the sharing of knowledge, research and dairy expertise,” said Kelvin Wickham, President of Fonterra Greater China and India.

“Both parties have world-class dairy research and know-how so we are very pleased to be playing a key role in bringing this initiative to life,” he said. . .

Local Government-Backed Website for Water Quality:

The local government sector is leading the way to provide New Zealanders with up to date information about fresh water, with the launch of a new website that makes water quality data public.

The Land, Air, Water Aotearoa (LAWA) website www.lawa.org.nz was created by 16 regional and unitary councils that are Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) members, together with the Ministry for Environment, Cawthron Institute and Massey University with support of the Tindall Foundation.

LAWA provides a rich source of data from more than 1100 freshwater sites local government monitors to give the public easy access to water quality monitoring information. It allows users to see levels of bacteria, acidity, water clarity and other parameters in rivers and catchments. . .

The incredible shrinking current account deficit:

While the value of dairy exports has helped New Zealand record a current account deficit in the December 2013 quarter, $900 million less than in the September 2013 quarter, Federated Farmers knows trade agreements are a must to continue this positive trend.

“Our export performance continues to shine and while dairy is leading, it is a story of our superbly resilient primary industries,” says Bruce Wills, Federated Farmers President.

“As Westpac Institutional Bank noted, “A sharp rebound in export volumes, after the severe drought in early 2013, led to the strongest seasonally-adjusted goods balance on record.” . .

High Country innovative leaders:

Federated Farmers High Country farmers are keen to work with Environment Canterbury in making the industry sustainable, so that they can continue improving the land, and keeping the iconic landscape pest free.

“Federated Farmers High Country Field Day yesterday saw 140 industry stakeholders and supporters make a pilgrimage through five of the country’s iconic stations, now a far cry from the barren, rabbit filled desert they once were,” says Simon Williamson, Federated Farmers North Otago High Country Spokesperson.

“There has been an enormous amount of work done to transform some of this barren land into productive pastures. A fundamental part of this transformation has been irrigation, which has allowed this land to generate enough income to support 23 families over eight farms, as opposed to just seven families on six farms nine years ago. . .

Support Trust to highlight farmers’ plight – Hugh Stringleman:

Northland Rural Support Trust has called a meeting of central and local government officials and farmer representatives to help west coast farms gripped by drought.

Former tropical cyclone Lusi turned out to be a damp squib, delivering 20mm of rain at most in the western Kaipara regions of Pouto Peninsula and South Kaipara Head, considerably les than the 50-75mm that fell on Northland’s east coast.

Farmers who attended the Northland Agricultural Research Farm annual field day near Dargaville last week heard of the continuing extreme soil moisture deficit, which has been evident since before Christmas. . . .

Verda Deal Gives New Hope To NZ’s Wood Processing Industry:

 A long-awaited turnaround in the wood processing sector has been signaled today by outdoor wood specialist Verda New Zealand Ltd, who announced they are forming a new entity after a successful capital raising exercise.

Local and international investors have come together to form Verda International Ltd (VIL). VIL has purchased all of Verda New Zealand’s assets, brands and IP, and has taken a 47 per cent stake in the company’s sawmill in Napier.

VIL CEO Grant Butterworth, says the deal is the culmination of 12 months of work to form the new entity, attract new investors and finalise the company structure. . .

Lies, damned lies and statistics (surveys) – Willy Leferink:

What would happen if Federated Farmers put out a survey asking respondents to agree or disagree with broad sweeping statements.  I’m thinking along the lines of, ‘do you feel introduced fish species should enjoy significantly more legal protection over native fish?’ What about, ‘should the trout license fee ($121 for an adult) be abolished, with trout and salmon rules aligned with those for saltwater recreational fishing?’

Something tells me one organisation would cry blue murder before exploding in a rage of apoplexy.  So guess what, I am not going down that line. 

Instead, I am going to respond to what I heard Bernard Hickey and RadioLIVE’s Marcus Lush recently say on radio.  Lush said, “we’re becoming more dairy intensive with these great irrigation projects in Canterbury and to a lesser extent Hawke’s Bay…they are all geared for more people going into dairy.” 

Funny then that the sheep and beef guys in Central Hawke’s Bay are going to use Ruataniwha to part irrigate their farms, just like Federated Farmers’ Mid-Canterbury provincial president Chris Allen. . .

Updated dairy cattle code of welfare to include calf management:

Federated Farmers welcomes the consultation process announced by NAWAC late last week, as it updates the Animal Welfare (Dairy Cattle) Code of Welfare.

“There has been a lot of media coverage recently of calves being slaughtered in Chile,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Federated Farmers agrees with most New Zealanders that this sort of behaviour does not belong on New Zealand farms. . .


Rural round-up

March 14, 2014

Concern over dry conditions in Waikato, Northland:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has visited the Waikato today to see first-hand the challenging dry conditions facing farmers.

“Most farmers are managing the dry conditions in Waikato and Northland, but it’s becoming difficult for some. The last few months have been very dry as pasture has browned off.

“Rain is forecast to hit the upper North Island this week as the remnants of Cyclone Lusi hits New Zealand. Any rain will be gratefully received by farmers.

“At this stage, the Government has not been asked to declare an ‘adverse event’ in any region. MPI have been providing me with regular updates and I’ll be watching these dry conditions around the North Island closely.

“Farmers are not interested in handouts, but they want to know the Government understands the challenges they are facing. That’s why I’m here today to see firsthand how they are coping with the conditions. . .

Irrigation share offer a test run – David Bruce:

An irrigation scheme designed to bring water to about 40,000ha in the Waimate area and create up to 1200 jobs has taken a big step forward with farmers being offered shares, which will help determine if it is feasible.

The Hunter Downs scheme, originally estimated in 2009 to cost about $200 million, was first mooted about eight years ago and Hunter Downs Irrigation Ltd has now issued a prospectus offering 40,000 shares to fund investigations to see if the scheme is viable.

The company needs to sell at least half of the shares, at $200 a share, for the share offer and scheme to proceed. . .

Dunne deal on doing things differently:

THE MINISTRY for Primary Industry (MPI) will look “quite different” as a result of an “alignment process” that started last week, says the new chief executive, Martyn Dunne.

Three months in his new role, he is ringing changes. For example, he has appointed deputy director-general Roger Smith to head MPI’s operation in China and is about to appoint two more staff there. He’s also adding staff to other key diplomatic posts in countries where market access is an issue.

Dunne told Rural News the “alignment process” is to meet the huge expectations and demands on his organisation. MPI and its previous incarnations have undergone almost constant restructuring for 25 years, but Dunne denies this is the case with the current moves.

“I don’t call it a restructuring and the staff don’t see it that way,” he says. “Normally restructuring is something driven by cost pressure and other demands and generally results in a downsizing. . .

Positive step in Fonterra accepting charges:

Federated Farmers is pleased to see Fonterra has accepted the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) four charges over the whey protein concentrate recall last year.

“This scare has been invaluable learning curve for Fonterra and they are making positive changes already to make sure this never happens again,” says Willy Leferink, Federated Farmers Dairy Chairperson.

“Our reputation for food quality and safety is paramount to our success on the world stage. Whilst this product recall was a false alarm it has unearthed some flaws in Fonterra’s system. By whole heartedly accepting the charges laid by MPI yesterday, Fonterra has shown they are on the front foot of this issue. . .

Manawatu Dairy Awards Winners Raise Reputation:

The major winners in the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Industry Awards, Duncan and Kim Fraser, have become role models in the industry after raising their profile from entering the awards.

The couple won the 2014 Manawatu Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year title last night “One of the benefits of the awards is that it does raise your profile in the industry and so opportunities are now coming to us. People are also now coming to us to seek advice,” the Frasers say.

The other big winners at the region’s awards dinner held at the Awapuni Raceway were Sam Ebbett, the Manawatu Farm Manager of the Year, and Hayley Hoogendyk, the 2014 Manawatu Dairy Trainee of the Year. . .

Hot contest for dairy awards spurred on by record prize pool:

The region’s top dairy farmers will be revealed this Friday as they compete for a coveted spot in the national final and a share of the record $710,000 prize pool.

Several hundred people are expected at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Taranaki dinner at The Hub in Hawera where winners of three categories will be announced: Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year.

The winners of each category will join entrants from 10 other regions around the country vying for the national titles to be announced in Auckland on May 9. . .

Extra feed equals extra dollars for dairy farmers:

With farmgate milk prices at an all-time high, maintaining production for the final months of the season is a priority for dairy farmers, and getting those extra kilos of milk solids means making some good calls around feed.

Low rainfall and drying winds in some parts of the country is slowing grass growth, while in other regions, there has been enough rain to maintain good pasture conditions. Ballance Agri-Nutrients General Manager Sales, Andrew Reid says farmers taking stock of mid-summer feed supplies can look to Ballance for the right advice on nutrient choices to keep herds producing.

“Because we take cover the complete farm nutrients spectrum, we’re in a good position to help farmers use forage and supplementary feed to keep up production. What to use, and when, will all depend on individual farm goals and weather conditions.” . . .

New rural masthead to showcase the best of our rural products to farmers:

Entrepreneurial agritech firm Bell-Booth has signed up to showcase their innovative probiotic products Queen of Calves™ and X-Factor™ through the new rural masthead product, Field Trials, being launched by “The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says Richard Stevens BrandWorld’s managing director.

“It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.

“With those sorts of budgets farmers are very astute businessmen so you have to find clever ways to reach them. Good suppliers like Bell-Booth know the trick is not to sell to those farmers but to give them the information they need, in a format they understand so they can make the best decisions they can.” . . .

Local Baby Formula Maker NuZtri reaches milestone with first shipment to China:

New Zealand owned Best Health Products Limited, producers of NuZtri Premium Formula and fortified Milk Powder today dispatched their first shipment of Fortified Milk Powder destined for the Chinese market.

“We have been waiting for some time for this day to arrive, finally NuZtri has dispatched our first shipment of Premium Forfeited Milk Powder to China” said Craig Calder General Manager of NuZtri.

“NuZtri has invested a considerable amount of money researching and developing a Premium Milk Powder product in New Zealand for the Chinese consumers. The demand for our product is high”. . .


Rural round-up

March 11, 2014

Dairy Women’s Network’s community leadership award finalists announced -

The Dairy Women’s Network (DWN) has announced the three dairy farming women who have been selected as finalists for its annual Dairy Community Leadership Award.

They are Chris Paterson from Rotorua, and Megan McCracken and Ann Kearney, both from Kerikeri.

The award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women play in leading their communities by sharing their time and skills beyond the boundaries of their own farm gates.

The winner of the award will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend a leadership programme of their choice in New Zealand. . .

Ahuwhenua Trophy farms to have field days - Stephen Bell:

The three Ahuwhenua Trophy Maori farming award finalists will open their farms to the public through onfarm field days.

Putauaki Trust–Himiona Farm, Ngati Awa Farms, and Ngakauroa Farm from Bay of Plenty, and Te Rua o Te Moko from Taranaki are having field days today, Friday, and next Wednesday. 

After the recent Fish and Game New Zealand survey Federated Farmers dairy chairman Willy Leferink said this is the best antidote. . .

Meating the market 100 years - Andrew Ashton:

A week of celebrations to mark the 100-year-old link between the people of Oamaru and the Pukeuri meat processing plant began on Friday with a centennial reunion for past and present employees.

Joyce McDougall (90) started work at the plant in 1951, and was one of the first women to be employed. She said Friday’s ”meet and greet”, in Oamaru, had been a chance to catch up with past colleagues.

”I just wanted to come and see how they have all weathered.” . . .

https://twitter.com/NZBeefLamb/status/443151118780993536

Irrepressible 234 selected as link ram: – Sally Rae:

When it comes to prolific breeding, it does not get much better than Lochern 234-07.

The Perendale stud ram, bred and owned by Alan and Annette Williamson, from Ida Valley, has been selected as a link ram for the Beef and Lamb New Zealand Central Progeny Test, which aims to help sheep farmers identify the best genetics across sheep breeds.

The ram’s selection required about 1500 straws of semen to be collected, which would be used in all five trial sites throughout New Zealand over the next four years.

Mr and Mrs Williamson already had 200 straws in storage from last season, so when they were combined, it could result in about 2500 new progeny, Mr Williamson said. . . .

Rural sector makes beefy contribution to urban Christchurch:

They may not be turning the same kind of dollar as their dairy farming counterparts right now, but when it comes to contributing to Christchurch city’s economy, sheep and beef farmers are leading the way.

That’s according to recent research by Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) which was commissioned by Aqualinc Research to examine expenditure flows into Christchurch from local farms and their households.

The research, which focused on farms from the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts, also included an assessment of the expenditure in Christchurch from rural businesses as a result of serving those farms and their households, as well as an assessment of employment generated on account of these expenditure flows. . .

Meet David Brunton who believes the future of agriculture demands professionalism, thoroughness and tenacity – Art4Agriculture:

Today’s guest post comes from budding young plant doctor David Brunton

“I like to think that things that start as a dream usually turns into reality, if you are willing to work hard with diligence, motivation and passion towards it. These dreams usually seem unachievable at the start however the pathway on which we choose to chase these dreams ultimately determines the outcome”.

My name is David Brunton and my story begins as a young child on the farm, getting my hands dirty, driving the machinery and ultimately paving a pathway towards my future ambitions. Not only did I grow up in the best location for a child, the wide open spaces of the country, but I also never had to put up with any siblings. We (my parents and I) farm two hours west of Melbourne, at Vite Vite North in Victoria’s western district running a mixed farming enterprise of super fine merinos, prime lambs and winter cereals. . .

Fonterra Milk for Schools Hits the High Seas:

The ships have set sail to deliver nearly 5,000 Fonterra Milk for Schools milk packs to Kiwi kids on the Chatham, Stewart, and Great Barrier islands.

Around 160 children from 17 schools across the islands now have the opportunity to join their mainland friends to drink milk every school day.

Operations Manager In-School Programmes, Louise Aitken, says the Co-operative wants to make sure that all Kiwi kids year one to six and their schools have the opportunity to be part of the programme.

“Bringing schools on board in the Chatham, Stewart, and Great Barrier islands demonstrates what Fonterra Milk for Schools is all about – making great dairy nutrition accessible to New Zealand kids no matter where they are,” says Ms Aitken. . .

https://twitter.com/Fonterra/status/443147066651316225


Rural round-up

March 10, 2014

This land of milk & honey of ours: – Willy Leferink:

The former U.S president, Ronald Reagan, was well known for his turn of phrase. At one farmer meeting Reagan delivered this advice on politicians peddling a plan: “the 10 most dangerous words in the English language are, “Hi, I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help”.

I was reminded of what Reagan said when, by chance, I caught Parliament a few weeks ago just as the MP Andrew Little let rip:  “This is a Government obsessed with mucking around in the same puddle of water we have been in, frankly, for far too long – more primary production, more mining, more commodity goods to be sold at commodity prices. The challenge for this country is to make the shift in our economy into totally new productive enterprises and into the new economy…”

It’s some puddle when ‘primary production’ will be worth $36bn this 2013/14 season!  It is even more of a puddle when dairying has helped New Zealand to a record trade surplus in January, or, as Statistics NZ’s Chris Pike put it, “dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973.” . . .

Sheep do most harm to farmers – Neil Ratley:

Southland and Otago farmers have been flocking to ACC with farm animal-related injury claims.

And sheep top the list of most dangerous animals.

Across the south, there were more than 1000 farm animal- related injury claims made to ACC in 2013. Sheep were responsible for 473 of those, with cattle being blamed for 367 injuries and horses coming in with 131.

However, in Southland where dairy cows command the paddocks, cattle inflicted the most pain on farmers with 123 injury claims last year.

But the district’s sheep also got in on the act, with 116 incidents reported to ACC. . .

Gorse attacked to halt nitrogen runoff:

A plan to eradicate gorse in the Lake Rotorua catchment as a way of stopping nitrogen runoff into the lake has been launched by the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.

Council general manager of natural resources Warwick Murray says gorse can contribute as much nitrogen as a dairy farm but because it’s so widely spread, the control of it rests with landowners.

He says it’s a very difficult task to accomplish because the gorse is often on steep, difficult country and comes back quickly after being cleared unless some alternative vegetation cover is established. . .

Day a chance to give it a go - Sally Rae:

Sarah O’Connell says she did not choose agriculture as a career – it chose her.

Ms O’Connell, now an extension officer for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, was addressing a Get Ahead career experience day at Totara Estate, just south of Oamaru, last week.

More than 130 pupils from John McGlashan College, Taieri College, East Otago High, Otago Boys’, Timaru Boys’, Craighead Diocesan, Mackenzie College, St Kevin’s College, Waitaki Girls’ and Waitaki Boys’ High School attended the day, while just over 140 attended a similar day in Gore earlier in the week. . . .

Winton newlyweds’ winning form  - Sally Rae:

March will go down as a memorable month for Winton 50% sharemilkers Steve Henderson and Tracy Heale.

Not only did they win the 2014 Southland Otago sharemilker/equity farmer of the year title, but they also got married.

Mr Henderson (27) and Ms Heale (28) met at Lincoln University, where they completed agriculture degrees before starting in the dairy industry in 2007.

Both came from farming backgrounds, with Mr Henderson brought up on a dairy farm and Ms Heale on a sheep and beef farm in the North Island. . . .

Tractor pulling gains popularity - Sonita Chandar:

Wheels will be spinning and the dirt flying when the big rigs roll in to Feilding for the annual Norwood Tractor Pull competition.

All leading tractor manufacturers will be represented at the event which runs as part of the Central Districts Field Days from this Thursday and put through their paces by the Tractor Pull New Zealand tractor pull sledge.

Modified tractors will be running daily – providing all the noise-making, smoke-generating and wheelie- popping action you can handle. . . .


Rural Round-up

March 9, 2014

Agriculture sector asked for input on health and safety:

WorkSafe New Zealand has released a suite of draft health and safety guidelines for those working in the agriculture industry for public consultation.

WorkSafe NZ’s National Programmes Manager, Francois Barton said that the draft guidelines are based on accepted best practice and have been developed in partnership with industry bodies and subject experts to ensure they meet the needs of New Zealand farmers.

“Good guidance is critical for farmers to know what safe work looks like, and these guidelines will play an important role in helping farm owners and managers understand and comply with their obligations and duties,” Mr Barton said.

“This is a really important opportunity for those most affected to have their say about agricultural health and safety. These are the people closest to the dangers and their views are very important. . .

West Coast cutting rights sold:

Associate Primary Industries Minister Jo Goodhew has today announced the sale of 22,800 hectares of Crown forest cutting rights on the West Coast to Ngāi Tahu Forest Estates Ltd (NTFE).

“The Crown’s forests are being sold to NTFE under a first right of refusal dating back to Ngāi Tahu’s 1997 Treaty Settlement,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“The land the forests are on was previously purchased by Ngāi Tahu as part of their Treaty Settlement.

“Since 1990, government policy has been to exit from commercial forestry on commercial terms. The sale of forests to Ngāi Tahu is consistent with this policy.” . . .

Invermay vital for the sheep industry:

The Southern Texel Breeders Association has called on the AgResearch Board and management to attend a meeting to explain what science will be left at the Invermay campus following the proposed restructure to Lincoln.

Tom Richardson (CEO of AgResearch) and Sam Robinson (Chair) will be attending the public meeting to be held at the Heartland Hotel in Gore at 1.30pm on Wednesday 12th March.

The association says that the retention of Invermay fits with Government strategy in all aspects of regional development, economic growth and knowledge transfer. . .

Upper North Island dryness a concern:

Federated Farmers is increasingly anxious over soil moisture deficits in Waikato, south Auckland and the West Coast of Northland.  In some areas, the effects are worse than last year’s record-breaking drought.

“We are keeping a very close eye on the next few weeks,” says James Houghton, Federated Farmers Waikato provincial president.

“We’re hoping to get some rain relief but the MetService’s Monthly Outlook doesn’t give me much hope.

“Farmers know summer means sunshine, heat and a lack of rain.  We can cope with that, but what we can’t cope with is when autumn fails to deliver its essential dose of rain. . .

Four pillars of wisdom – a farm accountant’s take– Pita Alexander:

Pita Alexander is a specialist farm accountant at Alexander’s Chartered Accountant in Christchurch. He shares his thoughts with NBR ONLINE on how the agricultural commodity cycle, capital gains tax, escalating volatility and New Zealand’s debt quagmire may affect the economy in the coming years.

12.15 on the clock of the agricultural commodity cycle

“I find that five to seven years is the average cycle over the last 40 years. It just cycles. It’s nobody’s fault. I will be very surprised if those cycles change much. Maybe they will get a bit shorter, such as four to six year, but who knows.”

“Thinking of it as an economic clock, I would suspect right now we are about 12.15 o’clock. It’s a matter of opinion, of course but we are close to the top.

“Within three years, for various reasons, things will turn on us and we need to be ready for it. We need to make money when things are going up on this side of the cycle but we need to make sure we are building our reserves. . .

Barrys Bay Cheese wins New Zealand’s supreme award:

Storms may have lashed Banks Peninsula over the last week with power blackouts common, but the spotlight was on Barrys Bay Cheese as it took out 11 medals including six golds and the coveted Countdown Champion of Champions Award at the New Zealand Champions of Cheese Awards.

The hand-crafted Aged Gouda was described by judges as boasting tropical fruit flavours and was a favourite with the entire panel. Barrys Bay also won golds for its Maasdam, Peppered Havarti, Gouda, Aged Gouda, Gruyere and Nettle Gouda.

The judging panel was made up of 28 of the country’s most experienced cheese connoisseurs and included over 430 New Zealand specialty cheeses. Judge Smith rated New Zealand cheese as “ranking with the best in the world, with certain styles indisputably world class.” . . .


Rural round-up

March 8, 2014

Otago water plan appeals resolved:

The appeals of Federated Farmers and others on Otago Regional Council’s Plan Change 6A (Water Quality) have been constructively resolved for farming and the environment.

“Otago Regional Council’s Plan Change 6A is now a reality,” says Stephen Korteweg, Federated Farmers Otago provincial president.

“On paper, at least, it offers a roadmap for maintaining or improving water quality in Otago. Now the hard work of implementing the plan begins. . .

What’s good for the farmer also proves good for the environment - Jamie Gray:

In Canterbury, the cockies are only half joking when they say they’re into hydroponics.

For dairy farmers, once they have the land it’s just a matter of adding water, the right feed, nutrients and cows and the result is milk. Lots of it.

In some parts of the province, you only have to dig down a few centimetres before hitting gravel and soil can vary widely in depth and quality.

Dairying does have an impact on the environment and it is heavily reliant on irrigation. So it comes as no surprise that water usage and quality is a hot topic in the region and the nation in general. . .

New posting to boost MPI presence in the Middle East:

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the creation of a new position for an Agricultural Counsellor to be based in Dubai.

The announcement has been made as part of the Minister’s current visit to Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“This new position is the latest step by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to increase its presence in the Middle East. It recognises the growing importance of the New Zealand relationship with the region and will provide further support for New Zealand exporters,” says Mr Guy.

“Based in Dubai, the position will cover key markets in the Middle East and seek to advance our trade and economic relationships. The position will also contribute to New Zealand’s strategy to develop strong government and private sector relationships with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). . .

Why wait till disaster strikes? – Katie Milne:

Ten years ago last month, the Manawatu suffered flooding in scenes eerily similar to what we saw in Britain and now Christchurch.  That 2004 flood event cost $300 million with Palmerston North coming within a hair’s breadth of disaster. 

In Britain, a former head of its Environment Agency dismissively said of Somerset’s flood management: “I’d like to see a limpet mine put on every pumping station.”  The UK’s Environment Agency acts like a huge regional council for England and Wales on flood and coastal management.  Its embattled head, Lord Smith, now faces headlines like this: “Environment Agency bosses spent £2.4million on PR… but refused £1.7million dredging of key Somerset rivers that could have stopped flooding.”

In October 2010, the late Horizons Regional Councillor, David Meads, told the Manawatu Standard that the Resource Management Act made it harder for his council to deliver its core business of flood protection:  “…that $6 million saved Palmerston North…But the work lower down, on the tributaries, was way behind. As we found out in 2004.”  Farmers felt shut out on consultation on flood and drainage schemes yet, “they were the people whose gumboots overflowed when heavy rain caused flooding on the plains.” In Christchurch, I guess we can add homeowners. . .

Husband and Wife to be tested in Kaikohe:

The Northern Regional Final of ANZ Young Farmer Contest will see husband and wife Rachel and Robert Cashmore of Papakura, battle it out in Kaikohe, Saturday 15 March.

The couple, along with six other competitors, will be vying for a place at the Grand Final and their share of $14,000 in prizes from ANZ, Lincoln University, Silver Fern Farms, AGMARDT, Ravensdown, Honda, Husqvarna and Vodafone.

The events begin with the practical day at the Kaikohe Showgrounds which will test competitors’ skills, strength and stamina. There will be a variety of hands-on, physical and theoretical challenges – all with an agricultural and farming focus.. .

Fieldays seeks agricultural innovators:

The highly regarded Fieldays Innovation Competition is back after yet another ground breaking year which saw previous entrants finding fame and fortune.

The most innovative competition in the agricultural industry is now open for 2014 and organisers are urging inventors to enter their rural innovations in the distinguished competition held annually at Fieldays, the Southern Hemisphere’s largest agribusiness expo.

The competition celebrates New Zealand ingenuity by showcasing the latest innovations, backyard inventions and commercial improvements, with thousands of Fieldays visitors eager to view the latest rural advancements. . .

Years of Dedication Sees Double Award Win for Goat Cheesemaker:

Rural Waikato cheesemaker Jeanne Van Kuyk is celebrating an incredible double win at the 2014 NZ Champions of Cheese Awards after claiming a highly sought-after supreme award and major category win.

Aroha Organic Goat Cheese cheesemaker, Jeanne, was presented with the Milk Test NZ Cheesemaker of the Year Award at a gala dinner and awards night held at The Langham, Auckland on Tuesday night (March 4).

While the certified organic, and GE free company is no stranger to award wins, this is the first time Aroha Organic Goat Cheese has taken out one of the coveted supreme titles. . .


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